After a flood decimated a shopping mall in Warwick, R.I., last year, anchor tenant Macy’s was faced with a complete top-to-bottom gutting and rebuilding. The nation’s leading department store retailer used that opportunity to develop many new concepts that it plans to roll out nationwide, including its upcoming Herald Square flagship store renovation. (For the full story on the Warwick renovation, see VMSD’s August 2011 issue.)
This new Macy’s strategy will focus on the things the retailer wants to say about itself: its deep and broad selection, exclusive brands, private labels and its role as a fashion leader that helps shoppers bring various items together to outfit and accessorize.
In doing so, Macy’s will reach deep into its bag for an old set of tricks – mannequins. Because, says James Bellante, senior vp of visual merchandising presentation, nothing helps a retailer bring disparate apparel departments together better.
“They are truly the silent selling assistant,” Bellante says, “to promote the season’s must-haves or to celebrate a merchandise exclusive, a product launch or a hot item – and to build our iconic style.”
So the Warwick store, and most other Macy’s stores going forward, will have larger cadres of mannequins. Among those line, Ralph Pucci (New York) “Material Girl” mannequins are used in Macy’s new MStyleLab, an exclusive fashion assortment developed in collaboration with Madonna and her daughter, Lola. And DK Display (New York) mannequins support the new Impulse departments, from full-figure to miniatures (in the accessories zones).
“Realistic mannequins have their position in our largest stores across the country,” says Bellante, citing the New York flagship, Chicago State Street, South Coast Plaza (Costa Mesa, Calif.), Washington, D.C., and Dadeland Mall (Miami), “because these stores have the talented staff and the product assortment necessary for theatrical presentations on the selling floors and in our windows.” For this, says Bellante, “Adel Rootstein continues as our premier choice.”
Bellante says forms and mannequin alternatives have also been increased on Macy’s selling floors the last two years. “The ease of change along with the character they can add to an assortment make them the ‘workhorse,’ ” he says. “Bernstein, Fusion and Goldsmith have all played important roles in our development of these products.”
Arguably the nation’s largest customer of mannequins, Macy’s selects and jealously guards its core group of suppliers. “We need to know we can count on those companies to work closely with us to achieve our goals, meet our deadlines and collaborate with us on exclusive product categories and designs,” Bellante says. “At well over 700 full-line stores across the nation, these fundamental partnerships are critical.”